Wednesday, April 23, 2008

Genetic NonDiscrimination Bill (Update)

This CNN story suggests that the long-awaited Genetic Information Nondiscrimination Act (see here and here) might soon become law. Here is an excerpt from the story:

Lawmakers have agreed to make it illegal for employers and insurance companies to deny applicants jobs and health care coverage because DNA tests show they are genetically disposed to a disease.

Supporters of the Genetic Information Nondiscrimination Act said Wednesday that the Senate planned to vote on it Thursday. The House also is likely to give quick approval to the bill, sending it to President Bush for his signature.

A similar bill passed the House by a 420-3 vote a year ago. The White House, at the time, indicated its support for the legislation.

Sponsors reached an agreement Tuesday with Sen. Tom Coburn, R-Oklahoma, who had been blocking Senate action on the bill.

The compromise tightens language to ensure there is a "firewall" between the part dealing with health plans and the section regarding employment so as to discourage inappropriate claims.

It also makes clear that, while individuals are protected from discrimination based on genetic predisposition, insurance companies still have the right to base coverage and pricing on the actual presence of a disease.